Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ) for Measuring Autism-Spectrum Traits in Adults

Reviewed by:
Armita Hosseini (M.Ed., M.A., C. Psych., Assoc)
Armita Hosseini

Armita Hosseini

M.Ed., M.A., C. Psych., Assoc

Armita Hosseini is a registered psychological associate with the College of Psychologists of Ontario. She received her Master of Education in Counselling Psychology from Western University (2013) and Masters of Clinical-Developmental Psychology at York University (2015).

Autism spectrum disorder is a neurodevelopmental condition marked by impairments in social-communication as well as repetitive /focused interests/behaviours. The Autism Quotient (AQ) is a 50- item screening tool that determines autistic traits in ages 16 and over (average to high average intelligence). Five different domains associated with the autism spectrum are covered in this tool:

  • social skills
  • communication skills
  • imagination
  • attention to detail
  • attention switching/tolerance of change

Research shows that the AQ is a quick tool (not a diagnostic tool) to identify where a person is situated on the Autism spectrum.

How to take the test

The AQ consists of 50 statements that may describe you, with 4 choices. Please pick the best one that applies to you. Please treat each statement as a binary choice (agree or disagree). It does not make a difference whether you choose slightly or definitely.

  • Definitely agree
  • Slightly agree
  • Slightly disagree
  • Definitely disagree

Autism Spectrum Quotient

1. I prefer to do things with others rather than on my own.

2. I prefer to do things the same way over and over again.

3. If I try to imagine something, I find it very easy to create a picture in my mind.

4. I frequently get so strongly absorbed in one thing that I lose sight of other things.

5. I often notice small sounds when others do not.

6. I usually notice car number plates or similar strings of information.

7. Other people frequently tell me that what I've said is impolite, even though I think it is polite.

8. When I'm reading a story, I can easily imagine what the characters might look like.

9. I am fascinated by dates.

10. In a social group, I can easily keep track of several different people's conversations.

11. I find social situations easy.

12. I tend to notice details that others do not.

13. I would rather go to a library than a party.

14. I find making up stories easy.

15. I find myself drawn more strongly to people than to things.

16. I tend to have very strong interests which I get upset about if I can't pursue.

17. I enjoy social chit-chat.

18. When I talk, it isn't always easy for others to get a word in edgeways.

19. I am fascinated by numbers.

20. When I'm reading a story, I find it difficult to work out the characters' intentions.

21. I don't particularly enjoy reading fiction.

22. I find it hard to make new friends.

23. I notice patterns in things all the time.

24. I would rather go to the theatre than a museum.

25. It does not upset me if my daily routine is disturbed.

26. I frequently find that I don't know how to keep a conversation going.

27. I find it easy to 'read between the lines' when someone is talking to me.

28. I usually concentrate more on the whole picture, rather than the small details.

29. I am not very good at remembering phone numbers.

30. I don't usually notice small changes in a situation, or a person's appearance.

31. I know how to tell if someone listening to me is getting bored.

32. I find it easy to do more than one thing at once.

33. When I talk on the phone, I'm not sure when it's my turn to speak.

34. I enjoy doing things spontaneously.

35. I am often the last to understand the point of a joke.

36. I find it easy to work out what someone is thinking or feeling just by looking at their face.

37. If there is an interruption, I can switch back to what I was doing very quickly.

38. I am good at social chit-chat.

39. People often tell me that I keep going on and on about the same thing.

40. When I was young, I used to enjoy playing games involving pretending with other children.

41. I like to collect information about categories of things.

42. I find it difficult to imagine what it would be like to be someone else.

43. I like to plan any activities I participate in carefully.

44. I enjoy social occasions.

45. I find it difficult to work out people's intentions.

46. New situations make me anxious.

47. I enjoy meeting new people.

48. I am a good diplomat.

49. I am not very good at remembering people's date of birth.

50. I find it very easy to play games with children that involve pretending.

1 of 50

About the AQ

Among the variety of screening tools developed to quantify autistic traits, the Autism-Spectrum Quotient has been the most commonly used. The AQ has been used to screen clinical samples (Woodbury-Smith et al. 2005), examine social cognition (Baron-Cohen et al. 2001), spontaneous facial mimicry in women who may be autistic (Hermans et al. 2009), gaze preference to social and non-social stimuli (Bayliss and Tipper 2005), and auditory speech perception (Stewart and Ota 2008).

The AQ correctly scores autistics (both male and female) higher than neurotypical population. The cut-off score for AQ is a score of 32, which has captured 80% pf those diagnosed with Autism. Any score below 32 may indicate no traits of Autism, while scores above 32 may indicated moderate to severe traits of Autism.

  • Test-retest Reliability (consistency of scores when one re-takes the same test) has been found to be good (Cronbach’s α varying from .63 to .78), suggesting that A is a reliable test.
  • Inter-rater reliability  (consistency of scores when two different clinicians provide the test to the same person) was also found to be good.

Do note that no single test is conclusive and should not be solely used for diagnostic purposes. Notably, not every autistic person necessarily scores above the defined threshold on each test. If you score low on the AQ and you may still think that you present some traits, book a complimentary consultation on our website to speak with a knowledgeable clinician.



  1. Baron-Cohen S, Wheelwright S, Skinner R, Martin J, Clubley E. The autism-spectrum quotient (AQ): Evidence from Asperger syndrome/high-functioning autism, males and females, scientists and mathematicians. Journal of autism and developmental disorders. 2001;31(1):5–17. doi: 10.1023/A:1005653411471.
  2. Bayliss AP, Tipper SP. Gaze and arrow cueing of attention reveals individual differences along the autism spectrum as a function of target context. British Journal of Psychology. 2005;96:95–114. doi: 10.1348/000712604X15626.
  3. Hermans EJ, van Wingen G, Bos PA, Putman P, van Honk J. Reduced spontaneous facial mimicry in women with autistic traits. Biological Psychology. 2009;80(3):348–353. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2008.12.002.
  4. Stewart ME, Ota M. Lexical effects on speech perception in individuals with “autistic” traits. Cognition. 2008;109(1):157–162. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2008.07.010.
  5. Woodbury-Smith MR, Robinson J, Wheelwright S, Baron-Cohen S. Screening adults for Asperger Syndrome using the AQ: A preliminary study of its diagnostic validity in clinical practice. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 2005;35(3):331–335. doi: 10.1007/s10803-005-3300-7.